(500) Days of Sixteen

Niall's been the new kid - or at least he has been for about six months. It's alright, he's got his mates.

So when a new girl moves into the old crack dealer's house across the road from him, it's pretty drawn obvious that Niall can't stop himself making eyes at her across the cafeteria. She's loose with the hands and the parties and the boys, but she has a way of looking at him that makes him want to melt inside. She's everything that his parents tell him to stay away from, but he wants her more than anything he ever has.

For some reason, he'll never understand, she holds his hand every step of the way.

A moment, a love, a dream, a laugh, a kiss, a cry, our rights, our wrongs.

He's in for the ride of his life in 500 days of being young, reckless and sixteen.

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2. the one with the spaghetti bolognese.

Niall walks home, his hands in his pockets and his earphones plugged in, blaring music at full volume. Somehow, the entire experience is so relaxing; not having to think about anything or work himself up over the tiny details which he tends to obsess over. Not his school grades, or the school choir which all four of them are a part of, or worrying if Harry will catch at STI soon, or about the mysterious new girl.

He finally reaches his street, and approaches his house only to notice a large moving van across the road with men carrying furniture out of it. Niall remembers the house just across from his as belonging to the old town crack dealer. No one knows what the hell happened to him, but apparently he’s gone now.

He frowns, before turning up his driveway and heading back. As he reaches his front door, he pulls out his earphones and hears the rumble of the school bus pulling up nearby. In all honesty, he could easily catch the school bus home rather than walk; it’d save plenty of energy. But instead, he prefers to walk. Not the greatest experience sitting alone on the bus and getting food flung at him while all the popular kids called him a choir boy.

Liam gets picked up every day and lives on the other side of town, Louis lives only a five minute walk from school, and only god knows where the hell Harry disappears to after the school bell rings.

Niall curses as he drops his keys and scoops over to pick them up while kicking his shoes off, just as he hears the bus pull away. He finally gets the door open, and glances carelessly over shoulder just to abruptly suffer a heart attack, drop his keys and collide head first into his own front door.

It makes a dull thud sound as he smacks painfully into it, but he hardly feels the numb sting of pain. The new girl is walking, and she’s walking right past his front lawn with her headphones on, and she’s walking right to the massive house across the road with the moving van outside.

The only thought he can process is oh crap as he scrambles through the door before the chance crosses that she might notice him gasping against his door like he’s seen a ghost.

Just my luck. The new girl is my new neighbour.

Next thing, he’s racing to his bedroom upstairs, but by the time he’s daring to peek out the window, she’s not in sight anymore. Maybe it wasn’t her, he thinks, attempting to calm himself, maybe she’s not really moving in there. Maybe you imagined it all, Niall.

Truly though, Niall knows that those delusions won’t keep him sane for long, seeing that now she probably has a clear view of his house which he’s living in, the very thought of which is extremely unnerving.

 

 

Choir practice the next morning is eventful as it always is. Louis always manages to find some juicy gossip on somebody to get spreading round the group like a rampant fire. Today, it seems that the victim is the cafeteria lady who Louis heard puts dodgy stuff in the spaghetti bolognese, which no one seems too surprised or scandalised over, seeing that Louis might be the only person in school who eats the spaghetti bolognese.

The choir is buzzing until Mr. Grimshaw, the director, walks in. He’s pretty strict, but everyone loves him because it’s sort unavoidable being the way he is.

“Mr. Tomlinson, return to the sopranos please,” he drawls as he crosses the room to the podium.

Louis turns and sulks off back to his section and stands in his spot next to Niall. Harry cranes his neck from the back row of the altos, and mutters something, which Cher; a gawky looking music nut who is practically devoted to him, faithfully whispers to Louis in a terribly loud stage whisper.

“Harry says that Liam’s not here!” Louis eyes her beadily before glancing past her shoulder at Harry who shrugs helplessly.

“I know!” Louis hisses loudly so Harry can hear him. There’s a slight frown on his face that Niall doesn’t quite recognise, it’s not quite like an upset expression, or even close to confusion mixed with reproach.

“Excuse me?” interrupts Mr. Grimshaw sharply, making Louis start a little. “Am I interrupting something, Mr. Tomlinson?”

“No,” Louis almost snaps, before he curses under his breath to himself. “I mean, uh. I’m fine.”

Niall can’t help but frown. Liam’s been taking a few days off school recently, not really having too much of a good reason to. He glances at Louis to gauge his response to this thought, to find him pouting like a child throwing a tantrum.

 

 

Lunch time is actually quieter than usual, even though Liam usually doesn’t contribute too much to the conversation apart from his logical input or when Harry is picking on his taste in football teams.

Louis still seems relatively upset over it, jabbing his food spitefully with his fork. Niall almost feels like it’s his responsibility to put them back in a good mood.

“Hey,” Niall pipes up just as Harry has started perving on the cheerleaders. “You remember the old crack dealer who used to live across from me?”

Louis doesn’t reply, just stabs his chicken violently. He can’t bring himself to eat the spaghetti bolognese now he knows about what the cafeteria lady does to it.

“Of course,” Harry replies distractedly, his eyes still fixed on those tiny little skirts. “Why?”

“He moved out,” Niall explains, “So I’ve got a new neighbour.”

“Good for you Niall,” Louis says snappishly. “Why are we talking about your demographic when we’re clearly avoiding the elephant in the room?” Harry finally tears his eyes away from his distraction.

“What elephant?”

“Exactly!” Louis exclaims, stabbing his fork viciously in Harry’s direction. He actually flinches. “Liam’s not here.”

“Oh come on,” sighs Harry exasperatedly, balling up his rubbish in one hand. “He’ll be at school tomorrow, can’t you just wait?”

“That’s not just it,” Louis protests, but Harry barrels on.

 Why don’t you go and pay him a visit tonight anyway? All you do is get off with him,” he says and Louis looks offended.

“I do not,” he says staunchly, looking prepared to fight over this and Niall wouldn’t put it past those two to start a brawl right here, right now. So he jumps at the pause of shock in the conversation and interjects hastily,

“The new girl is my neighbour.”

Louis and Harry stare at him in surprise for a few moments, taking in what he’s just said. Louis finally glances over his shoulder, then leans in, poking his thumb in the direction of where she normally sits. Yeah, Niall couldn’t help but notice that she wasn’t sitting there today.

“You mean the new girl?” he asks in a scandalous tone, the argument over Liam apparently having completely disappeared now. Niall’s relieved. “As in the one who you were having eye sex with yesterday?”

“I was not-” Niall begins, feeling his cheeks redden substantially.

“Oh please,” scoffs Harry disbelievingly, his eyes back to the cheerleader table. “Us three were so surprised you guys didn’t just march over to each other and have sex in the middle of the cafeteria.”

“Yeah,” chides Louis and Niall glares at them defiantly, since about thirty seconds ago, they were glaring at each other, practically oiling up for battle. “So she’s moving in across the street from you?”

Niall nods, fixing his stare on his empty lunch tray.

“Man, that’s an open invitation to get in there,” Harry points out, leaning on his elbow, before adding, “By the way, what actually happened with you and Chelsea?” The sudden change in conversation surprises Niall since he hasn’t talked to or about Chelsea for nearly two years.

“Nothing,” he answers truthfully and Louis snickers. Niall is almost irritated. “What?”

“Seriously?” Louis sighs, tossing a worthless glance over at the cheerleader table. “She’s all that- you know, the long blonde hair, short skirted, buxom girl who’s practically leaning over permanently cos she’s so damn enthusiastic to suck off every straight guy in the school.”

“As if you didn’t get with her,” Harry adds. Niall frowns.

“We were friends in middle school,” he says slowly, as if he’s waiting for it to get through his friend’s thick skulls. “Years ago. Now she doesn’t even look my way when we pass in the corridor.”

“That can’t just happen right? She just stops paying attention to you?” demands Louis, like the very thought is insulting even though they’re living in a world where cliques are everything. Niall snorts.

“Did you try anything?” Harry demands, because it’s such a Harry thing to do. Niall opens his mouth and articulately says nothing, before snapping it shut quickly.

“Nope,” he tries.

“That’s a lie,” Louis says immediately, seeing through it at once. “Niall.”

“Look, why the hell are we talking about Chelsea?” he says defensively, looking away. “I don’t even like her anymore.”

“Oh that’s right,” Louis smirks, leaning back in his chair. “Because you’re obviously too dick-deep interested in the new girl to pay attention to any other attractive female on the planet.”

“He does that you know,” Harry says seriously, talking like Niall isn’t even there, “He finds one and he develops some obsession with her.”

It strikes that Niall that this is something close to the norm, even without Liam. It’s just Louis and Harry taking the piss out of him because it’s amusing to them and everybody seems happy, and Niall’s too much of a peace-keeper to care.

“Well could you at least make it stick this time?” asks Louis. Niall blinks at him blankly.

“What?”

“Actually do something about your little hormonal crush,” Louis taunts with a smirk. “I mean she was looking at you like she could actually see you, which is more than I can say for half your crushes.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t nail Chelsea,” Harry says with a pitiful sigh, staring fixatedly now at the cheerleader table. Niall sighs exasperatedly, wondering what he’s going to do with these two. Suddenly, he sees the cafeteria doors swing open, and he sees her again.

He didn’t realise that seeing a single person who hardly spares him two seconds could make him feel so goddamn nervous and foolish. She looks, if possible, even more attractive than he remembers. Then again, as he nearly chokes, he realises she’s not even wearing the standard uniform she was yesterday. No, today she’s wearing a cheerleading uniform.

It’s not healthy for him, he concludes immediately, feeling the rush of blood to his cheeks and probably to several other parts of his body.

Niall drops his gaze immediately, as Louis furiously jams his elbow into Niall’s ribs painfully. Niall’s shoving Louis off him as Harry leans back in his chair, talking to Cher.

“Get the f-”

“But she’s here!”

“I can see,” Niall hisses back, almost embarrassed.

“Since when is she a cheerleader?” Louis demands in a fervent whisper.

“I don’t know,” Niall replies exasperatedly, unable to help but feel a little despairing. He should have noticed she was sitting with the cheerleaders yesterday. He knows full well that she’s just slipping further and further out of his reach.

Harry’s mumbling with Cher, who’s wide eyes are fixed on him devotedly like he’s some sort of god. Obviously Cher’s got it in for him but then again, thinks Niall, what girl in the school didn’t?

Sometimes it sucks having a friend like Harry who seems like he needs to do nothing more than flip his hair and look at someone in the eyes before they’ve fallen hopelessly at his feet.

All four legs of Harry’s chair scrape the ground as he leans away from Cher, who gives him a hovering, lustful look through her thick glasses.

“Oi Niall,” Harry says, glancing at the cafeteria line where she’s standing. “Your girl.”

“She’s not my girl,” Niall mumbles, still quite incapable of not staring at her behind while she’s standing there, talking to her friends.

“She’s a cheerleader,” Louis states plainly and Niall scowls.

“I can see.”

“Her name’s Ali,” Harry says casually and if possible, Niall feels his heart melt even more. Ali. It’s sort of perfect. “Just transferred here interstate. Cheerleader obviously. Niceness is so far undeterminable from her demeanour.”

Niall frowns at his friend momentarily, before he catches himself staring at her again. He can’t really help it, she just looks so damn good in that uniform. The fabric is tight over her torso, over the round curve of her slender breasts and over her perfectly flat stomach, whilst the skirt folds covertly over her long almost tanned legs.

The cheerleading uniform is designed just so that the girls are covered, but as they twirl, they’re not quite so modest.

Every look just reminds him now she’s way out of his reach than before when her clique was undecided. Cheerleader and choir boy? That’s never going to happen.

 “Why doesn’t she have a chest?” asks Harry bluntly as Niall nearly smacks him over his head with his lunch tray.

“Fuck off,” he murmurs, holding back the urge to clench his fists. In his opinion, she didn’t need to have massive tits to be gorgeous. Obviously, she stumps Harry.

“Don’t insult the love of Niall’s life,” Louis jibes, poking Harry in the shoulder. “How would you like that? Don’t mind him, Niall. I think she’s pretty.”

Pretty, thinks Niall almost miserably as he stares down at his empty tray. She’s not just pretty, she’s- Louis starts making a noise in the back of his throat, but Niall’s too preoccupied being dejected about his lack of opportunities to actually get a girl. He stars pulling at Niall’s sleeve impatiently too, but Niall simply yanks his arm away, irritated.

Harry stops swinging on his chair, freezes, before he immediately tries to assume a casual position. Both of them go silent and Niall figures out what’s going on a second too late.

He looks up and sees her, gorgeous and all, holding her tray in her hands. In that split second, he tries to absorb every perfect feature of her. There’s no smile on those lips, but her gaze is so direct and open that he might just as well plummet into it. But instead, he sits there gaping, a little out of it, until Louis launches a more vicious than necessary kick under the table, causing him to jump.

“Hi,” he blurts, immediately self-conscious about how squeaky his voice sounds. She glances with an amused look at his friends for a moment, then smiles at him. Right. At. Him. Oh good lord.

“Hi there,” she says lightly. Her voice is so serene, Niall is almost fooled into thinking he should be calm too. She’s addressing him, he realises abruptly.

“Hi,” he gets out again, apparently forgetting he’s already said hello. Louis is trying very hard not to smirk, which results in him just looking like he’s trying not to pee himself. She looks almost shy as she drops her rubbish in the bin, before her eyes flicker back to his.

Then she’s gone, turning away and walking back to her table. Her friends don’t seem to notice she’s just greeted a choir kid.

Niall, on the other hand, has forgotten how to breathe.

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